Blue for autism awareness
Just as the Empire State Building in New York, the CN Tower in Canada, and the Sydney Opera House in Australia have done in the past, the Philippines’ iconic entertainment and sports landmark fondly called the Big Dome has been lit up blue for a good cause.
On April 3, the Smart Araneta Coliseum’s main gate was lit blue in line with the global campaign to support the World Autism Awareness Day (April 2 in the US) declared by the UN. With April being the World Autism Awareness Month, the “Big Dome Lights Blue” project supports the global autism community – a symbolic gesture behind a bigger aim to promote awareness, acceptance, and inclusion of people with autism.
“Big Dome Lights Blue” was a joint effort of the Araneta Center, Inc., the Smart Araneta Coliseum, and the J. Amado Araneta Foundation, Inc. (JAAF), in partnership with the Philippine Associate for Citizens with Developmental and Learning Disabilities, Inc. (PACDLD).
Prior to the ceremonial lighting of the Big Dome’s main gate, PACDLD held its first-ever Autism Advocate Awards at the Gateway Gallery on the 5th level of Gateway Tower, in recognition of several medical professionals and parents that have made advances and contributions to Autism Awareness and Advocacy in the Philippines.
Before the Big Dome was bathed in blue lights, a handful of children with autism and other learning disabilities, collectively called Kontra Gapi Plus, performed using Filipino ethnic instruments. The kids were trained in art and performance by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.
“We are proud to support this global awareness movement and the advocacy of acceptance of people living with autism,” noted Diane Romero, executive director of JAAF, in her speech. “Our founder, Don Amado Araneta, had always envisioned the Center to be a place that welcomes all, and our participation here signifies our commitment to his vision. Today, we light up the main entrance of the Big Dome blue to signify our belief that we can be partners to tireless groups like the PACDLD and the Autism Advocate Awardees in the movement towards acceptance, appreciation, and protection of children and individuals living with autism and other learning disabilities.”
Other speakers were PACDLD co-founder Felicite Jean Gonzales and Rizalio Sanchez, chief of Information, Education and Communications Division, National Council on Disability Affairs.
“Big Dome Lights Blue” is just one of the CSR activities of the Araneta Group in support of autism awareness. In the future, activities in partnership with groups like PACDLD in disseminating information on autism, holding art and crafts workshops for kids with autism, and training frontliners in recognizing and giving proper response to people with autism are in the plan.